The concept of microdosing has been around for a while. Recently, it’s enjoyed an upsurge of renewed attention, both in mainstream media and among some academics.
In general, microdosing is the practice of taking tiny doses of psychedelic substances on a frequent basis, sometimes daily or every couple days. The idea is that each individual dose is too small to produce any serious effects, but still substantial enough to generate subtle changes.
This, proponents claim, leads to a number of benefits. Typically, fans of microdosing claim it helps them focus better, stay mentally alert, enjoy greater levels of happiness and creativity, and other similar benefits.
To put all this to test, a group of researchers recently completed a groundbreaking study. And the results of that study were just published in the journal PLOS One.
To conduct the study, researchers had to figure out a way to work around laws prohibiting the possession and use of psychedelic drugs.
They decided to work with people already microdosing. From there, researchers asked them a number of questions to gauge the effects of microdosing.
More specifically, participants answered a number of questions each day. Additionally, they answered a more intensive set of questions at the beginning and end of the specified study timeframe.
Finally, researchers gathered, aggregated, and analyzed all participant responses. They looked for any trends that could point to consistent outcomes from microdosing.
Positive Outcomes of Microdosing
According to researcher Vince Polito, who summarized the study at The Conversation, study participants reported mostly positive effects.
The most pronounced positive effects of microdosing include:
- A general boost in things like creativity, focus, happiness, productivity, and other indicators on days that people microdosed. The study found less pronounced effects on days that people did not take a dose.
- People tended to report lower levels of depression and stress when they microdosed. Polito noted that none of the participants had serious issues with depression or stress, so that could have skewed the data on this point.
- Participants said they were more focused and imaginative when they were microdosing.
Negative Outcomes of Microdosing
Along with the positive experiences people had from microdosing, there were also some negative ones. Chief among these was a slight uptick in feelings of neuroticism.
According to researchers, some participants had such bad experiences when they first started microdosing that they stopped experimenting with it.
More generally, there was a slight increase in neurotic feelings after six weeks of steady microdosing. Based on this finding, researchers guess that it may be fairly common to begin feeling more and more negative emotions after the six-week mark.
Where Do We Go From Here?
In particular, Polito reminded readers that all data used in the study came from personal questionnaires, not more controlled experimentation. If laws about psychedelics become more lenient, it will likely become possible to carry out more scientifically rigorous tests.
Similarly, this study was fairly broad and general. As a result, it primarily provides general ideas about microdosing and psychedelics rather than well-proven trends and outcomes.
“There are promising indications of possible benefits of microdosing here,” Polito wrote. “But also indications of some potential negative impacts, which should be taken seriously.”
He added: “It’s early days for microdosing research and this work shows that we need to look more carefully at the effects of low dose psychedelics on mental health, attention, and neuroticism.”